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June 1, 2021

Clothing industry joins calls for sector-specific EU action

The European textile, clothing, leather, and footwear (TCLF) sectors are calling for a dedicated strategy to help ensure their survival following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move comes on the heels of the European Commission’s update last month of the 2020 New Industrial Strategy: “Building a stronger Single Market for Europe’s Recovery.”

Groups representing the TCLF industries are urging support for a “coherent and effective strategy” at both a national and EU level, and have set out their response in a joint statement: ‘The future industrial strategy of the EU Textiles Ecosystem.’

It aims to help guide the sectors through the current green and digital transition, while facing tough global competition, and stresses the need to safeguard the industries and protect jobs in Europe.

Specific demands include full engagement with sector bodies in both the recovery and the transition of the industries, support for the EU Pact for Skills, a revision of the GSP trade benefits that doesn’t negatively impact the sectors and its workers, and support to decarbonise the sectors.

It also calls for careful consideration of Due Diligence Legislation and quality dialogue ahead of the EU Sustainable Products Initiative and the Consumer Agenda to ensure that all policy gaps are addressed.

Special attention must also be given to the forthcoming EU Textiles Strategy which should fully represent the needs of the EU’s entire textiles ecosystem.

The four bodies backing the joint statement are the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex), the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC), the Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (Cotance) and IndustriAll Europe.

“We need to build a new business model, based on quality, sustainability and innovation. Our companies should operate in open and fair markets,” says Dirk Vantyghem, director general of Euratex.

Carmen Arias, general secretary of CEC, adds: “Representing more than 95% of our sectors, SMEs are the main target of the updated Industrial Strategy. They need tailored and easily accessible financial support, as well as proportionate measures to enable them to lead the twin transition.

“We can build a more resilient ecosystem by ensuring that the specificity and needs of our industries are considered in the development and implementation of the strategy at regional, national and EU levels.”

Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, secretary general of Cotance, notes: “The companies and the people working in Europe’s TCLF ecosystem excel not only in generating wealth and jobs for our economy, but also their creativity is a distinctive cultural feature that is unparalleled in the world.

“It is therefore essential that our regulators apply the utmost care in finding the right mix of incentives and directives for ensuring their sustainable development and that their service to society is not compromised.”

Judith Kirton-Darling, deputy general secretary of IndustriAll Europe, says: “The TCLF sectors in Europe employ over 2 million people, with many of these workers playing a crucial role during the Covid-19 pandemic by producing personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns.

“We owe it to these workers in Europe to make sure that the sectors come out of the pandemic ready to face the green and digital transition which is top of the EU’s ambitions.

“Workers are ready to meet these challenges and we call for investment in the factories and their workforces to ensure a positive and green future for the TCLF industries in Europe, with high quality and well paid jobs for its workers.”

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